01 November 2010

Pharmaceutical market grows slows due to major patent expiries

After a decade of solid growth of over 9% per annum, 2009 saw growth  drip to 4.6% due to patent expiries of major blockbusters and an increasing emphasis on cost containment in the US and European healthcare systems.


The three major pharmaceutical regions – North America, Europe and Japan - account for 81.7 % of the world market, with North America by far the largest accounting for 39.8% of global sales in 2009.

Global pharmaceutical sales growth of 4.6% in 2009 was primarily driven by 17.9% US dollar growth in Japan. US market growth rates remained below average between 2007 and 2009, following the loss of patent protection and subsequent generic competition for several key brands.

The US pharmaceutical market grew by 3.0% in 2009 to $300.3bn, whilst the European pharmaceutical market remained flat at $247.6bn in 2009. The major five countries, Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the UK, together accounted for 66.6% of all European pharmaceutical sales in 2009. However, as the European pharmaceutical markets outside the leading five countries have developed, offering regulatory frameworks to support the sales of high-value innovative drugs, their share of the European market has steadily increased.

The Japanese pharmaceutical market grew by 17.9% in 2009 to $90.3 bn. Although recent growth rates have been significantly inflated by currency fluctuations between the Japanese Yen and US dollar, biennial price cuts in 2008 were less severe than previous rounds and were more than off-set by the introduction and uptake of several high-priced innovative drugs, such as Takeda’s Enbrel (etanercept) and Chugai’s Avastin (bevacizumab).

125 blockbusters dominate sales

There were 125 pharmaceutical drugs that generated more than $1bn in global sales. The top 100 blockbuster drugs generated sales of $285.1bn, accounting for 35.3% of the total pharmaceutical market. The leading product by global sales in 2009 was Pfizer/Astellas’ Lipitor (atorvastatin) with $12.5 bn.

“The top 20 pharmaceutical products all generated sales in excess of $4bn and accounted for 14.6% of the total pharmaceutical market,” says Steve Seget, author of the report Pharmaceutical Market Trends, 2010 – 2014: Key market forecasts & growth opportunities (4th Edition).

Two of the top four high growth blockbusters in 2009 – Roche’s Tamiflu (oseltamivir) and GSK’s Relenza (zanamivir) – benefited from preventative programs relating to the 2008-09 swine flu pandemic. The only pharmaceutical product to grow by more than $1bn in both 2008 and 2009 was Abbott/Eisai’s Humira (adalimumab). There were a total of seven new blockbuster drugs in 2009, generating combined sales of $9.8bn.

Therapeutic biologics accounted for 25.8% of total blockbuster sales in 2009. A total of 32 biologics achieved global sales in excess of $1 bn. Products in the second five-year period of their market lifecycle accounted for almost 35% of the total blockbuster market in 2009, products in the third five-year period of their market lifecycle accounted for almost 50%. The most popular therapy areas for blockbuster drug sales were antineoplastic/ immunomodulatory, cardiovascular and CNS, which together accounted for 55.7% of total blockbuster sales. Pfizer had the greatest number of blockbuster products in 2009 with 14 (including five inherited through the acquisition of Wyeth). Pfizer also achieved the greatest share of blockbuster sales with 11.7%.

59 companies control nearly 70% of the market

There were a total of 59 companies generating pharmaceutical sales in excess of $1bn. These companies accounted for 69.1% of the global pharmaceutical market and increased sales by an average of 4.0% in 2009. Cost of sales, selling, general and administration expenses and R&D spend all grew in line with revenues between 2007 and 2009. However, the average net income profit margin for major pharmaceutical companies increased from to 18.0% in 2007 to 19.5% in 2009.

In 2009, the top ten companies ranked by pharmaceutical sales generated total sales of $317bn, with a year-on-year increase of 3.1%. Total pharmaceutical sales from the top ten companies accounted for almost 40% of the total market. Pfizer was the leading company in 2009 with a market share of 5.6%. Pfizer’s pharmaceutical sales were more than twice those of eighth-place Johnson & Johnson (J&J).

The leading biotechnology company in 2009 was Amgen with total revenues of $14.6bn. Second was Gilead Sciences with revenues of $7.0bn and third was Genzyme with $4.5bn. Gilead Sciences achieved the greatest revenue increase in 2009 with 31.4%. Three of the top 10 biotechnology companies suffered a decrease in revenues in 2009.

For the top ten pharmaceutical companies there is some degree of correlation between sales, sales growth, R&D and value. Current market share and future market share expectations all appear to be important factors in determining company value. Sales levels also influence R&D levels, which as a result help to sustain future sales growth.

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